Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Evelyn Lees for Saturday - November 26, 2016 - 6:20am
bottom line

Avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep slopes with fresh drifts of wind blown snow. These wind slabs will be most widespread along and just off the upper elevation ridges, though look for smaller drifts on mid elevation slopes, in open bowls and along gully walls. There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering a narrow, deeper slide breaking on facets near the ground on upper elevation northerly facing slopes.

The consequences of getting caught in any avalanche on our thin, early-season snowpack means taking a ride over rocks and deadfall.




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current conditions

Skies are partly cloudy this morning, and temperatures are warm – in the upper 20s to upper 30s. The southwesterly winds are just a bit stronger than yesterday – most stations are steady in the 20s, while speeds across the highest peaks have increased to 30 to 45 mph gusting to 50 mph.

The early season snowpack is still very shallow, though most deeper areas are supportable. The snow surface is now a mix of sun crusts and cracky wind slabs, with powder still to be found on sheltered shady slopes. Approximate snow depths:

  • Upper Cottonwoods – 18 to 24 inches
  • Park City side - about 12 to 18 inches
  • Ogden area mountains - 6 to 16 inches at the mid to upper elevations
  • Provo area mountains – 4 to 8” at the low to mid elevations
recent activity

No new avalanches were reported yesterday. But there were several interesting observations from Cardiff Fork. Apparently, some natural slides did break to the ground on facets during the Wednesday night storm (Nov 23rd) in upper Cardiff Fork and collapsing was reported on a higher, northerly facing slope.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

The main avalanche concern is more widespread and deeper wind drifts. Today’s stronger southwesterly winds will drift snow further off the ridge lines, in addition to loading along the high ridges. Watch for cracky drifts mid slope, at mid elevations, in open bowls, along gully walls and sub ridges. New cornices may be sensitive. Shooting cracks indicate a sensitive wind slab, to be avoided on steep slopes.

Avalanche Problem 2
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

The earliest autumn snow never quite melted off on upper elevation, northerly facing slopes - instead it changed to loose, sugary facets. The photo below from November 15th partially shows the distribution of this oldest snow in upper Cardiff Fork. These weak facets are found on upper elevation, northerly facing slopes, mostly in the upper Cottonwoods. These facets are suspect, especially each time they get a new load – today on slopes with new wind drifts.


weather

Expect warm and windy conditions in the mountains today with 8000' temperatures rising into the mid 40's and to just above freezing at 10000'. Winds will be from the southwest and blowing 20-30 mph at mid elevations with gusts into the 50's at upper elevations. Fortunately a series of storms are on the doorstep with snowfall beginning later tonight with 2-4" expected by early Sunday morning. This initial system arrives on a southwest flow. A second, stronger pulse moves through Sunday afternoon with additional snowfall and colder temperatures on a northwest flow. The third - and strongest - piece moves through Monday and Tuesday..

general announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please help us out by submitting snow and avalanche conditions. You can also call us at 801-524-5304, email by clicking HERE, or include #utavy in your tweet or Instagram.

To get help in an emergency (to request a rescue) in the Wasatch, call 911. Be prepared to give your GPS coordinates or the run name. Dispatchers have a copy of the Wasatch Backcountry Ski map.

Backcountry Emergencies. It outlines your step-by-step method in the event of a winter backcountry incident.

If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, but no one is hurt and you do not need assistance, please notify the nearest ski area dispatch to avoid a needless response by rescue teams. Thanks.

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This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done. This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always exist.